International News

Bones Found at Vatican Property Reopen Questions on 1983 Mysteries

Italian Army and police officers stand in front of the apostolic nunciature to Italy in Rome where workers discovered human bones during a reconstruction project. Italian media immediately raised the possibility that they could be the remains of a Vatican employee’s daughter who was kidnapped 35 years ago at the age of 15. A forensic examination of the bones is underway, the Vatican said Oct. 30. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

By Elise Harris

ROME (Crux) – Late Tuesday night, Oct. 30, the Vatican announced that fragments of human bones were found during the recent remodeling of a building attached to the Vatican’s embassy to Italy, though there are still no details about the age of the remains or the person to whom they belonged.

Emanuela Orlandi is pictured in a photo that was distributed after her presumed kidnapping in 1983. A forensic examination of the bones is underway, the Vatican said Oct. 30. (CNS file photo)

As soon as the bones were found, a Vatican statement said, the Vatican’s Gendarmerie corps informed Italian authorities as well as those within the Holy See, and an investigation has been launched.

Rome’s Chief Prosecutor, Giuseppe Pighatone, has tasked the Scientific Police and a mobile team of Rome’s police headquarters to study the remains in order to determine their age, sex and the date of the person’s death.

Details are slim on what bones were found, however, according to Italian agency ANSA, the bones consist of a skull and teeth.

In some quarters there is already speculation that the remains could belong to a young Italian woman named Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983 at the age of 15, and whose father at the time worked for the Institute for the Works of Religion, better known as “the Vatican bank.”

Orlandi’s body was never found, and numerous hypotheses and conspiracy theories have circulated since her disappearance concerning the circumstances and motives of what might have happened.

Mirella Gregori is another young Italian woman who also disappeared in 1983, just over a month ahead of when Orlandi went missing. Police are likely to make DNA comparisons to determine whether the bones belong to either of the young women.

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